I've been planning a masquerade mask for a couple of weeks now, sketching designs and basic 3D paperwork cutouts. Having ordered some lightweight, malleable and surprisingly sturdy aluminium fine gauge mesh, I started to construct the 3D design properly. In all, it took about two hours to accurately shape the contours and design - the mesh is extremely good for structural bases, however I found it had a tendency to fray badly on pointed sections. I attempted to cure this with a thick cotton trim (<-- see picture round eye) but it didn't work out as it too tangled easily and simply took far too long to do, even with a makeshift mattress needle. (Leftover wire is very useful!)
The papier mache solved this in the long run, having a reinforced folded trim round the edge was enough to hold it in place. For durability, and to retain that touch of flexibility I needed, I used a higher quantity of industrial PVA glue - and it worked a treat, complementing the natural malleability of the aluminium without allowing it to sag too much.
I used the traditional layering technique, rather than the mulched paste so beloved of today's crafter, because it gives a smoother and more even finish - you can also delicately add layers to give better depth and definition. I also needed to overexaggerate the features, as I've got quite a spectacular finish in mind.
Coming up shortly: The next layer - painting and decorating work begins.